PROVO Relief has finally come to some of the people on the Meals on Wheels waiting list in Utah County.
The Utah County Commission contributed nearly $300,000 over the next three years to Mountainland Association of Governments' Aging Services program, which will benefit Meals on Wheels.
Scott McBeth, director of the Department of Aging and Family Services for MAG, said that since last August the waiting list for Meals on Wheels has increased from 30 people to 140, a huge burden on the program that was already strapped for funding. The money the county gave to MAG will help with several different programs that he hopes will eliminate that waiting list.
Some of the funds will be used for a traditional delivery route: a traditional vehicle with a paid staff member who delivers meals to the seniors in an area. McBeth said another traditional route has already been put in place since the funds were received, which has helped about half the people on the waiting list. The county commission voted several weeks ago to give the funds to MAG and MAG's executive committee officially accepted them last Thursday.
When the county and MAG were working through issues they also began to discuss better ways to meet the growing need and demand for Meals on Wheels, said Utah County Commissioner Larry Ellertson.
"We're funding a position which would help us to find and put into place a volunteer director to help bring in volunteers from the community to help deliver meals," he said.
MAG's Aging Services will work with the United Way of Utah County to help find businesses willing to provide employees to help deliver the meals, McBeth said. They're hoping to find employees willing to pick the meals up at city senior centers and deliver about 10 meals during their lunch breaks, he said.
County Commissioner Steve White said corporate sponsors shouldn't be too difficult to find to help with volunteers. Banks are federally mandated to give back to communities and often get involved in projects such as this. He also said Utah County has public-private partnerships with several local corporations, such as Nu Skin and Tahitian Noni, which he said are "wonderful community partners."
"All we're trying to do is solve a problem," he said. "Who could say no to a 100-year-old, who should say no to a 100-year-old, or an 84-year-old? ... We're trying to make sure that these wonderful senior citizens have daily contact and a way to make sure they don't suffer from malnutrition."The funding provided by the county should enable the program to get rid of the waiting list within a year, McBeth said. However, that prediction doesn't include unexpected growth, he said.